On This Day: Kris Kristofferson Inducted into The Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1985

by Jim Casey

Kris Kristofferson added another feather to his distinguished cap on March 18, 1985, when he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Kris’ iconic songwriting catalog includes “For the Good Times,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down,” “Why Me,” and many more.

Songwriting Legend

Kris was born on June 22, 1936, in Brownsville, Texas. He got his first major break as a songwriter when both Roger Miller and Janis Joplin recorded his tune “Me and Bobby McGee.” Miller’s rendition reached the Top 20 on the country chart in 1969. Joplin’s 1971 version, which was released posthumously, topped the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“That song broke the ice for me,” said Kris to Country Weekly magazine in 2003. “It lifted me out of having to work for a living, and then I was able to go out and do what I love to do.”

After that, the former Rhodes Scholar and Army helicopter pilot went on a roll, writing a string of No. 1 hits, including Johnny Cash’s “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down,” Ray Price’s “For the Good Times,” and Sammi Smith’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night.”

As a solo artist, Kris scored a No. 1 hit in 1973 with “Why Me.”

Kris Goes Down the Highway

Little did the Songwriters Hall of Fame know that Kris was about to embark on a mini-career resurgence. A few months before his induction, Kris joined Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson in the studio to record their self-titled debut album as The Highwaymen. After the album dropped in May 1985, the title track shot to No. 1 on the country charts.

When the Songwriting Hall of Fame inducted Kris on March 18, 1985, his legacy was already intact.

Kristofferson’s songs have been recorded by everyone from Scott Walker and Isaac Hayes to Roy Orbison and Dean Martin.

Kris was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2004. BMI honored him with the Icon Award in 2012. Kris received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

Earlier this year in January, Kris Kristofferson, 84, formally announced his retirement from touring.